Long Beach has been recommended for two grant awards by the State Department of Conservation’s Strategic Growth Council, city officials announced last week.
“Thanks to California's Department of Conservation, Long Beach will have the ability to pursue sustainability goals as a city while exploring quality developments, including the restoration of the Los Cerritos Wetlands," Mayor Bob Foster said in a statement.
The grants to be received by the city include a Sustainable Communities Planning Grant award of $929,000 to fund what it called "an amendment" to the city’s Local Coastal Program Southeast Area Development and Improvement Plan (SEADIP). It called it an "amendment design."
It also funed a $170,000 award for the Willmore Courts and Ways Demonstration Project through the Strategic Growth Council’s Urban Greening Grant Program.
Wetlands activists and some opponents of a hotel development - known as 2nd and PCH due to its location - have not seen the need to change SEADIP, which is the governing document for any building in the coastal zone. Most of the land that radiates around that intersection falls into it.
Supporters of SEADIP changes, including land owners in the area, the 2nd and PCH developer and other development interests in the community, have waited a long time for a revision of SEADIP. The City Councilman representing that area (and Belmont Shore) is Gary DeLong.
SEADIP was adopted in 1977 and arrived at by a community process. It is the longstanding blueprint of what is allowed to be built in the wetlands landscape. The area stretches from around 7th Street down to the Seal Beach border, and around Pacific Coast Highway.
It currently would not allow the 9-story hotel and retail-restaurant-condo project that the Seaport Marina Hotel owners and developer have sought to build. Their land stretches from the corner back to roughly where Mimi's Cafe is located. But the California Coastal Commission last December pre-emeptively instructed the city that SEADIP would not allow the project.
On Dec. 20, 2011, the Long Beach City Council directed staff to form a SEADIP game plan after a surprise rejection of the proposed , in part because it called for several deviations from . Councilman Patrick O'Donnell, who grew up in the nearby neighborhood known as The Hole, opposed the project as too big and dense, as did the City of Seal Beach, at its border.
The $929,000 award of Sustainable Communities Planning Grant funds will help Long Beach complete the SEADIP changes. A nearby landowner who opposed the 2nd and PCH project because he felt all tolerable traffic increases would prevent any increase from his own future projects, offered to put money toward the costly revise of SEADIP.
“Community involvement will drive ,” said DeLong, 3rd district councilman, in a statement. “This is an opportunity to set the foundation for future economic development by identifying community benefits and locations for infill development, strategies to preserve wetlands resources, and ways to reduce vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions.”
Long Beach’s second award is for the Willmore Courts and Ways Project, a sustainable urban greening demonstration project that will be funded through the Strategic Growth Council’s Urban Greening Grant Program.
"This is great news for the Willmore neighborhood and the Courts and Ways Demonstration Project,” said Robert Garcia, 1st district councilman, in a statement. “This project is a great example of how infrastructure improvements can become opportunities for creating green and sustainable features within a community.”
The designs that are part of the Willmore Courts and Ways project will attempt to transform deteriorated alleyways into pedestrian walkways.
This particular project will close a portion of an alley in the Willmore City Historic District to vehicular traffic and incorporate storm water management features, native plants, permeable pavers and sustainable enhancements, according to a statement from city officials.
The plans were slated to be approved by Strategic Growth Council.